Election 2017: What do leaders do in their spare time? – BBC News
Politicians are busy people. When they’re not running the country or their party, they’re trying to persuade the public to vote for them. But they also have families, hobbies and passions. So, when they do get a bit of spare time, what exactly do the party leaders do with it?
Prime Minister Theresa May likes to stretch her legs up and down hills and mountains, saying she decided to call the current election while walking in the Welsh mountains.
Mrs May has also said she and her husband Philip enjoy “quite strenuous walking up mountains in Switzerland”. It may be worth remembering that the prime minister studied Geography at Oxford University.
And while it’s not exactly a hobby, she’s also known for her love of shopping for shoes.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has an interest in the design and history of manhole covers – a hobby which he himself has described as “zany”.
“My mother always said there’s history in drain covers. I take pictures of them. People think it’s a little odd, but there we are.”
He also likes to visit Cambridge. “One of my secret joys is to get a train up and ride around for the day.” He couldn’t drive there, because he doesn’t own a car, which perhaps goes some way to explain his interest in trains.
He’s also very keen on growing his own veg. “I always make time for my allotment. You like a dry summer because the weeds don’t grow.”
When it comes to relaxing, you’ll often find the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Paul Nuttall in a boozer – he describes himself as a “pub person”, with Guinness his tipple of choice.
This walking theme among a few politicians raises the tantalising prospect of the Tories, Lib Dems and Greens having an impromptu Parliamentary debate out on a wind-swept hill somewhere.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), says her favourite travel destinations are Skye and Portugal.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams’s favourite past-time is bouncing around on a trampoline while naked. And often with his dog, who apparently can do back flips.
Mr Adams says he too can do tricks on the trampoline, but has declined to “discuss it publicly”.
The Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Arelene Foster has previously been a Girl Guide leader.
Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite films are said to be Casablanca and The Great Gatsby – although which version of the latter is unclear, given there have been four cinema versions spanning a period from 1926 to 2013.
Nicola Sturgeon is a fan of Borgen, the Danish political drama about a woman who rises to become prime minister while having to maintain a fragile coalition.
She’d most like to get stuck in a lift with actor George Clooney, because he’s “really interesting”. The SNP leader also likes TV singing contests, being a fan of The X Factor and The Voice, while Arlene Foster is an EastEnders fan.
Tim Farron also watches The X Factor, with his children.
A university friend of Theresa May’s has said they both loved watching comedy sketch show The Goodies.
And Mrs May recently revealed she watches both Sherlock and Midsomer Murders, but not Broadchurch or Line of Duty.
If Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood spends any time in front of the TV, it’s usually watching political programmes, such as Newsnight and Question Time. She also says the programme Valleys Rebellion by actor Michael Sheen, about political disillusionment in Wales, has made her cry.
Tim Farron spends his spare time “watching music on YouTube”, a legacy from the days when he fronted a New Romantic band called The Voyeurs in 1980s. At least, it was called that until they realised what it meant. Then they changed it to Fred the Girl.
The Lib Dem leader said the band, which had a recording session with Island Records, were described as a “fourth rate New Order – which I’m very proud of”.
And Mr Farron still hasn’t quite put his warbling days behind him, because his karaoke song of choice is the Waterboy’s The Whole of the Moon and he’s been known to be an enthusiastic singer at the Glee Club.
Jonathan Bartley, the co-leader of the Green Party, spends his free time gigging with his band, the Mustangs. He’s pretty good too, as he was nominated for Blues Drummer of the Year at the British Blues Awards in 2010.
His political partner Caroline Lucas cites Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond as her karaoke song of choice.
Arlene Foster also loves music and has sung at weddings.
Among those who just like to listen, Welsh pop band Catatonia are the favourite band of Leanne Wood.
In 2014, Theresa May’s picks were Abba’s Dancing Queen and Walk Like A Man – from the musical Jersey Boys – alongside Mozart and Elgar.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has revealed musical tastes that range from Joni Mitchell to Leonard Cohen to Luke Kelly on his Twitter feed. Nicola Sturgeon has expressed admiration for the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit.
Theresa May once told Desert Island Discs that a lifetime subscription to Vogue would be her luxury item on a desert island. Mrs May has also said that The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a “very, very cleverly written book and a very well-written book, and that it brings home is the absolute horror of the Holocaust”.
And she recently revealed she has read all of the Harry Potter books, although she declined to answer a query as to which of the characters she was most like.
Jeremy Corbyn likes reading the works of Irish poet WB Yeats, while his favourite novelist is said to be the late Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. A fluent Spanish speaker, the Labour leader also enjoys Latin American literature.
Caroline Lucas says she joined the Green Party in 1986 after being “utterly inspired” by Jonathon Porritt’s book Seeing Green.
She’s also mentioned reading The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life, by William Nicholson, which she described as “an incredibly compassionate novel”.
Leanne Wood’s politics are said to have been inspired by the novel Woman on the Edge of Time, a 1976 story by Marge Piercy that’s considered a feminist classic. It tells the story of a working class Mexican-American woman living in a rough area of New York. Ms Wood has said reading it was “as though someone had removed a blindfold”.
Nicola Sturgeon names Sunset Song, a story of a young woman’s struggles growing up in a dysfunctional family in a farming community in Scotland, published in 1932, as her favourite book of all time.
She also says James Kelman is one of her favourite authors, and suggested on Twitter that people should read his book Dirt Road.
Jeremy Corbyn currently owns a cat called El Gato – which is Spanish for “the cat”. He has described his pet as possibly being “a bit of a Tory” because of its “disappointing individualism and lack of concern for others”. Years ago, when married to his second wife, he owned a cat called Harold Wilson.
Nicola Sturgeon is afraid of dogs, and had to be coaxed into holding a cute little puppy during a visit to an animal charity.
No such fears for Gerry Adams, who has owned dogs since he was four or five years old. He also likes hanging out with his grandchildren’s dogs, and often goes hill walking with them.
Caroline Lucas has formalised her love of animals by becoming a vice-president of the RSPCA. She and her family also own a chocolate Labrador called Harry.
On the menu
During her later student years, Leanne Wood took a series of factory jobs, and one stands out in particular.
“At Ferrero Rocher in the early 1990s you were allowed to eat as many chocolates as you liked. It sounded like a dream job. I can’t look at them now though because I ate too many. I had so many on the first day that after day three I couldn’t stand them any more.”
But she is partial to a Sunday roast, which is “without question” her favourite meal, as well as her “guilty pleasure”.
Theresa May owns 100 recipe books and never buys takeaways. But she has described a bowl of crispy chips as her own “guilty pleasure”.
She’ll take a nip of whiskey or glass of wine, but didn’t express a preference of one over the other, saying it “depends on the circumstances”.
Jeremy Corbyn became a vegetarian at 20 after working on a pig farm and isn’t keen on alcohol.
Asked what his favourite biscuit was during a Mumsnet Q&A, he replied: “I’m totally anti-sugar on health grounds, so eat very few biscuits, but if forced to accept one, it’s always a pleasure to have a shortbread.”
One of his favourite places to eat is Gaby’s Deli in London’s West End.
It’s been reported that he loves making jam with fruit grown on his allotment, and once belonged to an All Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese.
But his second wife, Jane Chapman, has said Mr Corbyn never once took her out for dinner during their five years together, preferring instead to “grab a can of beans and eat it straight from the can” to save time.
Caroline Lucas is also a vegetarian, while Nicola Sturgeon’s takeaway of choice is Indian.
“Forget your Earth mother, lentil-loving, leftie alternatives like soya and almond milk. Give me the real stuff. I drink milk with almost every meal and have done since I was a kid,” he said.
A question of sport
Jeremy Corbyn is a fan of running, cycling, cricket and Arsenal football club.
Gerry Adams supports Antrim Gaelic football club, where his son Gearoid is one of the managers.
Arelene Foster is said to be at home in a rugby club.
Theresa May is a big fan of cricket, including Geoffrey Boycott and the West Indian fast bowler Tony Gray among her heroes. And she recently said she preferred rugby over football.
Tim Farron, a fan of the football team Blackburn Rovers, is also a keen player of the Beautiful Game himself.
Paul Nuttall played for Tranmere Rovers as a school boy and a youth team player. In 2016, he said he had “never claimed he was a professional player”.